Is it just me or has Arrow been getting better? The show is nowhere near perfect and I’m still not ready to classify it as must-see-TV, but the past few episodes have been pretty good. They’ve held my attention for the most part and I’m continuing to fall more and more in love with the supporting characters, especially Tommy and Dig. I’d still prefer the show focus on being serial instead of episodic, but for now, I’m going to be happy with it being enjoyable.
So let’s talk about “Betrayal” and what worked and what didn’t. The episode started with Oliver and Dig discussing the journal that Felicity gave him (points deducted for lack of Felicity in this episode). Dig correctly pointed out to Oliver that if Moira was anyone else, Oliver would be having an arrow-side chat with her (bonus points for Dig’s dry sense of humor). Oliver insisted that his mother wasn’t the bad guy and didn’t know anything, but Dig wasn’t satisfied with that and decided that he was going to trail her on his own since Oliver wasn’t listening to him.
A few things bugged me about these scenes. I get that Moira is his mother, but Oliver is supposed to be a trust no one kind of guy. Isn’t that what the island taught him? But more than that (and here’s my push for serialized storytelling), it bothered me that there was no reference to what happened TWO weeks ago when Oliver wanted to go after Dig’s commanding officer and turned out to be right. There were so many opportunities for them to reference this during the episode, but it was like it never happened. (Inconsistent storytelling always annoys me so major point deduction here).
Laurel was a big part of the episode and that automatically earns some bonus points because Katie Cassidy is awesome and grossly underused on this show (I understand they don’t want to make her Black Canary right out of the gate, but she still needs a bigger role). Thea had a pointless scene to remind everyone she’s working at Laurel’s office and we got to learn that Laurel is determined to put a Cyrus Vanch, a notorious criminal, back in jail. Since the police couldn’t help her, Laurel placed a call to the vigilante to ask him to look into things.
Vanch was played by David Anders, who will always be one of my favorites (Julian Sark!) and I was really happy to see him getting to play the villain because he’s just so good at it. He’s not campy or overdramatic and he’s not trying to imitate another villain like the disaster that was The Count (nothing against Seth Gabel, but seriously, stop stealing from The Dark Knight, show). Anyway, Vanch wanted to reclaim his spot as head bad guy and when he realized the vigilante was investigating him, he explained to his girlfriend/henchwoman that he learned in prison that the best way to grab power was to find the biggest guy and put him down permanently. It was an excellent diabolical plan, obviously (okay, so the plot is still silly, but Anders made it work).
Detective Lance was also back in this episode and once again more determined to take down the vigilante than the criminals. A few of his fellow officers tried to talk sense into him, pointing out that using his daughter was a bad idea and that the vigilante has been doing a lot to help the police, but he was all about bringing him down. Of course that backfired when Oliver heard him coming, used Laurel as a human escape shield and then took off. Laurel was super mad at her dad and then she vented to Tommy about how her dad had used her and possibly ruined her connection to the vigilante.
Tommy was completely floored that Laurel had been in contact with the vigilante all of this time. He was also pretty upset that she’d blown off dinner with him for ‘work.’ Laurel pointed out that this was work, but Tommy was not pacified (Seriously, I felt so bad for Tommy in this episode. He’s such a good guy and he’s pretty much an afterthought for everyone. However, there is a small part of me that has hope that all of this is part of a larger SERIALIZED storyline that will lead to him eventually embracing his inner dark archer. And yes, I will still root for him then because Colin Donnell is awesome and Tommy is my favorite).
After his fight with Laurel, Tommy went to Oliver to ‘talk about something.’ Oliver pointed out that every time he comes to him to talk about something and that something is Laurel; he looks like he’s going to tell him he has a terminal disease (That line made me laugh a lot because humor is something that is severely lacking from this version of Oliver. And before anyone is like, ‘what happened to not comparing the two?’, I’m going to go ahead and say that went out the window when this show started repeating storylines that happened on Smallville). Anyway, Tommy was talking about lack of trust and people lying to him and how he was worried Laurel was attracted to the vigilante because she likes dangerous guys and Oliver was looking pretty guilty over the whole thing since he too is constantly lying to Tommy and everyone else.
Vanch sent some guys to kidnap Laurel and she immediately wiped the floor with them because she is a BAMF. But then Vanch showed up himself (got to love a criminal who is willing to get his own hands dirty and doesn’t just rely on minions). He admitted that he was impressed with her and then he tasered her. Tommy arrived a little while later and found an arrow with a recording from Vanch saying if they want Laurel back, make sure the vigilante gets the message. Tommy brought it to Detective Lance and he realized that one of his men had passed the information to Vanch so he had no choice but to call Arrow and ask for his help.
In a cool scene, Vanch calmly told Laurel about all of his security that the vigilante would need to go through to get to her and as he talked, we got to see Arrow taking out each layer of the security until he got inside the mansion. That was when Vanch pointed out that he’d used up all of the arrows in his quiver (like, really? He said he watched surveillance tapes, but come on. I’m OCD too, but change up the number, Oliver). It was all good though because before the guy with the giant machine gun could kill Arrow, Detective Lance shot him. Then he went after Vanch and Oliver reminded him that he was the cop and had to do the right thing.
Laurel was shaken, but not enough to forgive her father. She made it clear that she needed some time to get over the whole thing where he’d lied and used her as bait. As she left the station, Arrow was waiting for her in what turned into a scene straight out of Smallville except it was Arrow and Laurel instead of The Blur and Lois. Oliver stood in the shadows so she couldn’t see his face (come on!) and told her that he wasn’t going to talk to her anymore because he didn’t want to put her in danger and Laurel reminded him that she was a big girl, but he wasn’t having it. Tommy showed up and Oliver took the opportunity to slip away, leaving Laurel looking sad.
Throughout the episode, there was an island flashback that showed Oliver following Yao Fei’s map and finding a plane. But there was another guy already there and he explained to Oliver that he’d been working with Yao Fei to get off the island, but Yao Fei had been compromised. Then he gave Oliver an opportunity to be his new partner, if he could fight him. He mocked Oliver’s weakness, told him it would be a compliment if he said he fought like a girl and then he tied him to a chair. Oliver managed to get out of it before the guy would have killed him (Side note: I’ve never seen Manu Bennett in anything before, but I really like him already).
Instead, he shook his hand, introduced himself as Slade Wilson and told Oliver to grab a weapon. Oliver found the Deathstroke mask, but Wilson explained that was a different guy, his partner, who tortured Oliver and they were from Australian intelligence to rescue Yao Fei. Oliver still looked a little wary as he held the mask in his hand and rightfully so, considering that whole thing where Yao Fei seemed to betray him and then saved his life. Again, this is why Oliver really shouldn’t trust anyone. Learn a lesson.
Back in present day, Dig spent a few days driving Moira around and then hit pay dirt when he recorded a conversation between her and Malcolm (can this guy please die soon?) where she admitted that she knew the Queen’s Gambit had been sabotaged and she mentioned working on something called ‘The Undertaking.’ Oliver didn’t know what that was, but he knew Dig was right and he needed to go straight to the source. A little while later, Arrow burst into Moira’s office, knocked out the gentlemen she was speaking to, pointed an arrow at her and started his, “Moira Queen, you have failed this city” speech.
I rolled my eyes pretty hard at this “cliffhanger” since it’s a pretty safe bet that neither Oliver nor Moira is going to die in next week’s episode. It’s also safe to assume that Moira will not learn the hood’s identity before she shoots him (something the previews totally gave away, also spoiling the big cliffhanger the cast and writers were touting all day on Twitter). So as disappointing as this ending was…at least Felicity will be back next week.
Did you enjoy the episode? Were you surprised by the cliffhanger? Which guest stars are you enjoying? Tell us in the comments below and I will see you back here next week…